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Two fires in one night raise suspicion

By:  JOSH MESSER / The Brunswick News

July 6, 2007

 

Firefighters save dog, but Sterling trailer is a loss

Glynn County Firefighter David Turner shows the oxygen tanks and tube he and his partner used to revive a dog rescued from the first of two fires that broke out at a Sterling mobile home Wednesday night. Officials suspect foul play.

(Photo by Michael Hall/The Brunswick News)

Arson is suspected in at least one of two separate fires that broke out at a mobile home in Sterling just hours apart Wednesday night.

Glynn County firefighters first responded to the home of Nancy Johnson at 156 Deer Circle just before 9 p.m., where they found a fire burning on an outside deck. After containing the damage to the deck and exterior back wall, two of them worked for nearly an hour to revive one of Johnson’s three dogs.

Glynn firefighters David Turner and David Brancel administered CPR to Johnson’s black Labrador retriever, Shadow, after finding the dog unconscious from smoke inhalation.

“Basically, he was dead when we found him, but we administered CPR and breathed for him for about 45 minutes until it revived him,” Turner said.

Nancy Johnson, who could not be reached Thursday, was described as a “big animal lover” by neighbors. She was known to have three dogs, a 3-month-old kitten named Ziggy, and a parakeet, they said.

Only Shadow and the kitten survived.

Firefighters wrapped up their work around 11 p.m. and remained on the scene another 44 minutes to make sure there were no remaining embers that could re-ignite the blaze, said Capt. Jerome Johnson of the Glynn County Fire Department.

But minutes after leaving the scene, firefighters were called back to the same address at11:58 p.m. to find the trailer on fire again.

“They got there the second time, and the fire was fully involved,” Capt. Johnson said.

Officials had already determined the first fire started when a smoker grill was left unattended on the back deck, Capt. Johnson said.

Neighbor Steven Ridings plays with a kitten that was rescued from the first of two fires that broke out just hours apart at a mobile home in Sterling Wednesday night. Ridings is trying to find the kitten a permanent home

(Photo by James Nix/The Brunswick News)

The cause of the second fire is under investigation, but circumstances would suggest arson, Capt. Johnson said.

“The second fire is the one we believe is arson because that first fire didn’t rekindle, especially not in 14 minutes,” he said.

Stephen Ridings, a neighbor, was among the first to arrive when the first fire broke out. He attempted to put out the deck fire with water from Johnson’s above-ground pool, he said.

“Then I kicked the door in to try and save the dogs,” Ridings when Ziggy got out. They found him roaming around later.”

Firefighters arrived as Ridings kicked in the door, he said.

 “They told me not to go in, so I got out of their way,” he said. “I told them to please save the dogs, but by that time I guess it was too late for all of them but Shadow.”

 Nancy Johnson wasn’t home at the time of the fires. Her daughter, Tammie Williams, said she can’t imagine who would want to set fire to her mother’s home.

“My mom didn’t have any enemies,” Williams said. “She is elderly and disabled. The worst thing is there was no insurance on the house, and my mom lost everything.”

The trailer was in Williams’ name, she said.

“My house burned down two years ago and I lost everything, so this is my second time going through all this,” Williams said.

Williams moved her mother to Sterling from Mobile, Ala., after the death of her stepfather in 2005 and has been caring for her ever since, she said.

“This has really taken a toll on her,” Williams said.

Turner said he was glad to have saved at least one of the said. “That must have been animals.

“It really was a good feeling,” he said. “She was very upset, because she loved her pets. We wanted to do something to help her keep at least one of them.”

Nancy Johnson and Shadow are staying with Williams in Brunswick. On Thursday, Williams took the dog to a vet to be checked out.

“They said if he makes it through the next 48 hours, he’ll be OK,” she said of the dog.

Ridings, the neighbor, has taken in Ziggy, but only until he finds a permanent home for the ball of fur. Anyone interested in adopting Ziggy may contact Ridings at 617-6609.

 

  As published in the July 6, 2007, The Brunswick News

 

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